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Peru: Introduction to Bloggers from Iquitos

I know many people will ask themselves, why do the blogs from Iquitos need an introduction? OK, there are probably more blogs and bloggers in larger cities like Trujillo and Chiclayo, while in Lima there are more bloggers than one can humanly cover, etc., etc., etc. I know. But Iquitos is a very special city to me, I lived there for many years, and it has given me, and continues to give me, so much. It was in Iquitos in 2001 that I discovered blogs; soon after, I started my own first blog, and and it was from that city I encouraged the few Peruvian bloggers at the time to join our efforts and start BlogsPerú [es], the first blog directory in our country. Please allow me to try to give back to this city, and to those that live there, some of the affection they have given me through this maybe incomplete but fervent collection of articles by Iquitos’ bloggers.

First off, I should say there are few blogs from Loreto that have been around for longer than a year, and you aren't mistaken if by this you deduce that the Iquitos or Loreto blogsphere is comprised mostly by young people, with some notable exceptions of course. On the otherhand, similar to what happens in real life, having been born or not in the region is not considered a requirement to be labeled a ‘charapa’ bloggers [Locals of the Amazon region of Peru are called charapas]. Not to mention those who, due to the vicissitudes of modern life don't live in Iquitos, but carry the city in their hearts. If we didn't consider them, we wouldn't be able to take into account the best known Iquitos blogger in the Peruvian blogosphere: Paco Bardales.

Paco, who recently published a book of essays about his city, IQT (remixes), writes the popular blog, Diario de IQT [es], where he publishes articles especially written for the blog, or published first in different media, such as the article titled IQT, 2007, in which he comments on various events that, in his opinion, marked milestones in the relationship between Iquitos, Peru, and the world, always from what can be called his extensive cultural viewpoint, not extensive due to excess of erudition but by his desire to cover both formal as well as informal culture, as you can see by what he says about the musical group, Grupo Kaliente, now famous throughout Peru:

Kaliente, caliente. Una canción bastó para desatar la locura. Y todos quedaron embrujados con el movimiento, con el énfasis en la cadencia, con la locura de los tiempos musicales. Y un ritmo de esencia norteña, irónicamente, fue suficiente motor para que el grupo iquiteño Kaliente diera el gran salto fuera de la Amazonía peruana y para que abandonara las noches medianamente tibias y se dejara embriagar por las giras frenéticas alrededor del país. Y tanto en las discotecas más fashion de Larcomar como en los senderos que transportan hacia Acobamba, El Embrujo ha sido declarado, tanto por los pies como los corazones desatados del gran pueblo, como la melodía del 2007.

Kaliente, caliente (Hot, hot). With one song, the craziness was unleashed. And everyone was bewitched by the movement, with the emphasis on the cadence, with the craziness of musical times. And, ironically, a rhythm in essence from the north of Peru, was enough of a impetus so that Iquitos’ Grupo Kaliente made the great leap out of the Peruvian Amazonian region, where they left behind the warm nights to be seduced by frenzied tours around the country. And from the most fashionable discotheques in Larcomar to the paths that go to Acobamba, [their song] El Embrujo has been declared, both by the feet as well as the hearts of the people, the song of 2007.

De la Selva su WEB ON [es] is a blog by Isaac Ocampo who, along with other friends, tends to deal with current events and problems in Iquitos, which has turned it into a fairly well-known blog in the local scene and is now beginning to be mentioned outside the region. Let's read what they say about the problem of the motorcycle taxis and their noise in the post S.O.S: A serious noise problem in Iquitos:

de acuerdo a algunas estimaciones en Iquitos existirían unos 40 mil mototaxis, ello también nos dice que dos tercios de la familias iquiteñas tienen ingresos a partir de este vehículo. Cada mototaxi en cualquiera de las condiciones que se encuentre genera más ruido de que los seres humanos podemos soportar. Por ello es que el ruido se ha convertido desde hace varios años en uno de los problemas más graves de nuestra ciudad.

according to some estimates, in Iquitos there are 40 thousand motorcycle taxis. They also tell us that two-thirds of the families in Iquitos earn their incomes due to those vehicles. Every motorcycle taxi, in whatever conditions it may find itself, generates more noise than human beings can stand. This is why in the past few years, noise has become one of the most serious problems in our city.

Ramiro Celis is a young blogger also interested in, among other things, current events in Loreto, as we can see in his post The Fever of Recalling Politicians is just beginning in our city:

La fiebre de la revocatoria de autoridades recién empieza en Iquitos y en la región en general. Se han comprado 24 Kits para empezar el proceso que busca quitar a las actuales autoridades del cargo por incapaces e incompetentes. Entre los nominados a ser revocados en nuestra ciudad, tenemos a Salomón Abensur, alcalde de la MPM, quien de una parte a otra se ha ganado una enemistad tremenda con la gente de Iquitos por los múltiples errores que comete en la gestión producto del mal asesoramiento, además de darse unos viajecitos cada vez que los regidores se lo permiten, o sea siempre.

The fever of recalling politicians is just beginning in Iquitos and the region in general. Twenty-four kits have been purchased to begin the process which seeks to strip current political authorities of their positions due to their inabilities and incompetence. Among those nominated to be recalled in our city is Salomón Abensur, mayor of Provincial Municipality of Maynas, who from one day to the next has gained the people of Iquitos’ enmity as a result of the many errors he makes in his leadership due to poor advice, and also for taking trips every time the politicians allow him, which is always.

Miguel Checa, a blogger with the makeup of a politician, writes the blog Desde la Amazonía Loretana. Ensayos y Comentarios [es], where he puts forth his ideas for the development of the region, in addition to other items, such as sharing with us something of the old desire for independence by the inhabitants of these lands in the post: A Brief Historical Account: Colonel Seminario and Aramburu's Decision:

El Gobernador sabía que lo que había escuchado era totalmente cierto. Que la entrega indígena a una causa era imparable e imprevisible. Recordó por un momento lo que había leído acerca de los pueblos de la Amazonía Peruana: nunca pudieron ser invadidos ni sometidos por los Incas, en el llamado Antisuyo; ni doblegados por los españoles ni los bandeirantes. “Solo fue posible entrar aquí”, pensó, “por el arduo y exitoso trabajo colonizador y evangelizador en la mente de los nativos, desplegado por los misioneros de toda orden. Decían que servían solo a Dios”. Ocurría, pues, que lo acontecido en Iquitos el 2 de mayo de 1896; es decir, la instauración del Gobierno del Estado Federal de Loreto, había golpeado y remecido al gobierno del presidente peruano Nicolás de Piérola. Para evitar mayores repercusiones, y que esta acción pudiera ser imitada por el resto de un país que tenía fresca una horrorosa derrota militar y la cesión de territorios; Piérola dispuso el envío inmediato de fuerzas armadas leales en tres expediciones que debían encaminarse hacia Iquitos por mar y por tierra, para recuperar parte del poder perdido; así como recuperarse de la vergüenza que le fuera infligida por esta histórica decisión de los nativos y mestizos amazónicos loretanos.

The Governor knew what he had heard was completely true: that the indigenous commitment to a cause was unstoppable and unforeseeable. For a moment, he remembered what he had read about the peoples of the Peruvian Amazon: they were never able to be invaded or conquered by the Incas in the so-called Antisuyo; nor were they submitted by the Spanish or the bandeirantes [Brazilian colonial scouts]. “It was only possible to come here,” he thought, “due to the arduous and successful colonizing and evangelizing work upon the minds of the natives, spread by missionaries of all orders. They said they only served God”. What happened in Iquitos on May 2, 1896, that is, the installation of the Federal State Government of Loreto, had pummeled and shaken the government of the Peruvian president, Nicolás de Piérola. To avoid greater repercussions, and to avoid this action being imitated in the rest of the country (which still had fresh a horrible military loss and ceding of territory) Piérola ordered the immediate deployment of loyal armed forces in three expeditions to head to Iquitos by sea and land and recover part of the lost power, as well as recover from the shame inflicted upon him by the historic decision of the natives and mixed-blood inhabitants of Loreto's Amazon region.

Lary is a young student and blogger who in Bastet [es], her personal space, usually deals with women's issues. For example, in a post titled From Iquitos, its beauties… she discusses the stereotype many people, especially those from Lima, have about the women of Loreto:

A través de los años, la gente ha interpretado mal la calidez de nuestras chicas risueñas, confunden la amabilidad y la espontaneidad que tienen con “la facilidad” que puedan tener de aceptar ciertas insinuaciones, tampoco estoy salvando a aquellas que si tienen esa facilidad pero creo que eso pasa en todas partes, no es cuestión del lugar… Una vez un amigo (de otra ciudad) me comentaba que en su universidad estudiaba una chica “iquiteña” y que a diferencia de las chicas lugareñas, ella tenía la facilidad de interactuar con los demás (hombres o mujeres) y que por cierto enterados de donde ella venia las insinuaciones no se hacian faltar y mi amigo me decía, es cuando comprendí que “el hecho que sea espontánea y cálida no la hace fácil, a diferencia de las demás chicas que se hacían las crudas y fácil subían a mi carro”

Over the years, people have misinterpreted the warmth of our smiling women, confusing their kindness and spontaneity with an “ease” at accepting certain insinuations (we're not defending those who do have that ease) but I think that happens everywhere, it's not about a specific place… Once, a friend (from another city) told me there was a girl from Iquitos studying at his university, and unlike the local girls, she easily interacted with other people, both men and women,but when it was discovered where she was from there were insinuations about her. My friend told me that was when he realized that “the fact that she was warm and spontaneous did not make her easy, unlike other girls who acted straight-laced but then easily got into my car.”

Spontaneity is what Darketta transmits, one of the three bloggers at Ikitozz City [es], which deals with diverse issues in
a fresh, fun, and funny way. Read what they have to say about the sexuality of young people nowadays, in their post, A little about sex:

Cuando fui de visita a la casa de Ursula que es una compañera de estudio, su abuela (que es muy chocha) me pregunto sin rodeos si yo me cuidaba cuando tenia relaciones, yo le dije que me cuido, me cuido de no meterme con ningun estúpido. La mamá de mi compañera que escuchaba se escandalizo por que como se le ocurria preguntar algo así, a mi la verdad me encanto la pregunta, por que ya no somos unas chiquillas. Me di cuenta que aquella mamá aun piensa que su hija a su edad aun es virgen, me recordó tanto a la mia que me puse a reir descontrolada. … Mientras escuchaba a esa linda viejecita narrar sus historias de amor y sexo juvenil, no paraba de extasiarme (la mamá de Ursula casi le da un patatus al escucharla narrar cosas que hizo y que no eran con su padre), me declare hincha de la abuelita.

When I went to visit my schoolmate's Ursula's house, her grandmother (who's very batty) asked me directly if I took care of myself when I had sex. I told her I took care of myself by making care I didn't get involved with someone stupid. My friend's mom overheard us and was shocked the grandma had asked me something like that. Truthfully, I loved the question, because we're not little girls anymore. I realized that mom still thought her daughter, at her age, was still a virgin. She reminded me so much of my own mother, I started to laugh uncontrollably. … While I listened to that wonderful old lady tell me her stories of love and sex in her youth, I couldn't stop being awestruck (Ursula's mom almost had an attack listening to her own mother tell of things she did with a man who wasn't her father). I became a fan of that grandma.

Nicole, another young student and blogger, usually posts about issues related to promoting awareness of the most varying things, although once in a while she also posts about her daily life or involving experiences lived, such as what she tells us in her post Celebrating New Year's Eve in Iquitos:

decidí adornarme y salir a revisar las calles de Iquitos, minutos previos antes de despedirnos del año viejo, 2007. Fuera de lo convencional, encontraba a mi paso aquellos simpáticos muñecos de trapo conocidos como “Pilatos“, de quienes colgaban unos coloridos y humorísticos mensajes referentes al año que estamos prontos a dejar en el pasado. Así pues, visualicé muchos anuncios, algunos con la picardía innata de los Loretanos, y otros, quizá eran simplemente algo que robaba una sonrisa fingida. Llevando una botella en la mano, una marioneta grita a los cuatro vientos: “Adiós año viejo y adiós a los hombres infieles“. Instantáneamente se puede pensar que fue hecho por una damisela, pero en estos tiempos, es mejor no sacar conclusiones apresuradas. Los pilatos representan, por lo general, toda la carga negativa acarreada los meses, semanas, días, horas, minutos y segundos antes del primer día de cada año nuevo.

I decided to get dressed up and check out the streets of Iquitos just a few minutes before saying good-bye to 2007. Out of the ordinary, I found along my route those cute cloth dolls known as Pontius Pilates, from which were hanging colorful and humorous messages having to do with the year we were ready to leave behind. I saw many notes, some with the innate colorful sense of humor of the people of Loreto, and others which simply brought about a fake smile. With a bottle in one hand, there was a marionette yelling out, “Goodbye old year, and good bye to cheating men.” Instantly, you might think it was done by a lady, but in these times, it's best not jump to conclusions. Generally, the Pontius Pilates represent all of the negative energy accumulated during the months, weeks, days, hours, minutes, and seconds before the first day of each new year.

Gloriux is a blogger who lives in Iquitos and tends to post about general interest subjects, and now and again about issues dealing with Iquitos; for example, he writes about certain culinary delicacies in the post Suri in Iquitos:

Hasta el momento no pruebo estos gusanitos llamados “Suri”, tengo que tener mas agallas y sentirme capaz de disfrutarlos como lo hacen los demás. Me explicaron que el árbol del aguaje es tumbado y se espera unas semanas para que puedan observarse estos gusanos en el centro del tallo; se abre el tallo y se selecciona los mas gorditos y sabrosos. Se fríe con su misma grasa y se degusta con pan, el suri también es colocado en un palito cual anticucho atravesado se coloca a la parrilla. Por ahora solo miro y me da mucha curiosidad y a la vez un poco de “asco” :) a ese paso no se cuando los probare…

Up to now, I haven't tasted those grubs called ‘suri’. I have to have more guts and feel able to enjoy them like other people do. They tell me the tree of the aguaje is felled, and you wait a few weeks until you can see these grubs in the center of the log. You open up the log and pick out the fattest and most flavorful ones. You fry them up in their own grease and eat them with bread. Suri is also skewered and cooked on a grill. For now, I just look. I'm curious nut also get a little quesy. At this rate, I don't know when I'll try them.

And although the selection of blogs is very long, and I find myself obliged to leave some bloggers by the wayside, to whom I apologize for the omission, I can't finish this collection without mentioning our friend Grinder, a designer and artist, who from Lima posts in his blog Manguaré delirious and dark writings, as well as memoirs of his life in the land where he was born, such as this real event he shares with his readers in the post Endemic Eden (Outro):

me acerqué quedamente, casi hasta poder alcanzar su aroma de musa ilusoria, simplemente se rió al darse cuenta de mi proximidad y me extendió la mano, tome las suyas entre las mias y senti el calor de juventudes inexploradas, a pesar de casi haberme ahogado hacia momentos atras, y a pesar de tener a su guardian amical tan cerca, que podia sentir su respiracion rabiosa sobre mi cabeza, pero no importaba nada, estaba hipnotizado cual mozalbete por anacondas reptantes, olor a juventud, salud a prueba de balas, belleza amazonica inmaculada, simplemente era como un edén que jamás habria de conocer. Soltó mis manos y se fue corriendo, dejandome su sonrisa tan limpia como un cielo chuya chuya, se alejó corriendo por entre la espesa selva, dejando rastos a su paso de caminos que se cerraban entre si, esto debe ser el cielo – pense -, o aquellos ojos deben ser el embrujo del que tanto escuche, el agua de sachachorro que siempre nos contaron los viejos curiosos, o el hueso de tanrrilla que siempre jovenes inexpertos buscabamos. Esto debe ser el cielo – me aleje pensando – , mientras todos correteaban a la carretera que habia acunado a una moto echa trizas contra el gracil cuerpo de aquella muchacha, hecha un ovillo a unos cuantos metros, hecha diosa a un par de centimetros del abismo, hecha ese edén que nunca llegué a conocer.

I approached slowly, almost reaching the aroma of the illusory muse, who simply laughed upon noticing my proximity and reached out her hand, I took hers in mine and I felt the heat of unexplored youth despite almost having drowned a few moments before, and despite having such a friendly caretaker so near; I could feel her rabid breath over my head, but nothing mattered, I was hypnotized like a boy before an anaconda, the smell of youth, health under fire, an immaculate Amazonian beauty, it was simply like an Eden I could never know. She let my hands loose and left running, leaving me with a smile so clean as the clear blue sky, she went away running through the thick jungle, leaving traces along her path which closed up behind her, this must be Heaven I thought, or those eyes must be the spell I had heard so much about, the water of the spells the curious old ones told us about, or the egg of the tanrrilla bird we inexperienced youth searched for. This must be Heaven I left thinking, while everyone ran to the road where a motorcycle had fallen in the ditch and shredded against the graceful body of that girl, curled up like a ball a few meters away, made into a goddess a few centimeters from the abyss, made into that Heaven I never got to see.

Translated from spanish by Alejandro García.

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